On 11 August, Islamic State fighters captured town of Jalula in Diyala province. Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, reported then that IS militants had flew the black flags of the Islamic State over government building in Jalula, while nearly half of the town’s population had fled to nearby city of Khanaqin, 14 miles from Jalula and only 8 miles from the Iranian border. Jalula is the closest that the advancing IS fighters have gotten to Iran. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have said that they would mount an offensive to dislodge the militants from Jalula in the coming days.
The last ISF offensive during the current conflict occurred in mid-July when the Iraqi Special Forces, armor units, and Iranian-backed Shia militias, supported by Iraqi Air Force attack jet fighters, launched an all-out attack on Tikrit to retake the city from the Islamic State militants. They advanced to the center of the city, but eventually were defeated by the Islamic State fighters and had to retreat.
Launching an offensive against IS in Jalula, however, has a special significance. The town is the closest the IS has gotten to the Iranian territory and its forces now threaten the border city of Khanaqin, which is only 19 miles from the Iranian city of Qasr-e Shirin. This is a direct threat to Iran and the Iranians and their Shia militia allies are expected to actively support the ISF to dislodge the IS fighters from Jalula.
Map credit: BBC